I had forgotten about the magic of hobby horses. This simple toy has really added to the play here in this house, and they were so incredibly easy to make. Perfect for a rainy day. Numala Kinder now has a stable of black beauties ready for a run. Hobby horses are a wonderful way to add movement into children’s dramatic play …. and we have a lot of galloping space here!

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My daughter received a hobby horse for Christmas, one that plays an authentic galloping and whinnying sound when you squeeze the ear. She loves it and fondly named it Ana. When Numala Kinder restarted after the new year Ana was very popular. Amazingly though,  one hobby horse between three four-year-old girls worked out quite well but all the same we decided to make some more lovely ponies. One rainy day this week,  when I just couldn’t coax the children outside (“I have had enough of WET!”) we made a few more.

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Of course sticks are in abundance around here, old socks are never hard to part with,  and I have stashes of emergency craft supplies so I knew I had some wool stuffing,  elastic and just the right buttons for eyes.

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Yes, I did most of the putting together and all of the stitching,  but the children were very engaged in helping to hand-card and stuff the wool into the socks. My 7-year-old made the bridles, which I had forgotten about.

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Joy! They love them! Humble and homemade, these horses don’t even seem to mind that they don’t make sounds like Ana. They have a life of their own.

HOW WE MADE THEM:

1) Gather your bits: old socks, stuffing, elastic, felt scraps, a good strong stick or broom handle, buttons, yarn, needle and thread.

2) Stuff the toe and the base of the sock well. Really well! squeeze and shape with your hands as you go to make a good horsey muzzle. When you reach the heel of the sock, place the pole inside and continue stuffing well around the pole. Secure the end of the sock by tying a piece of elastic tightly around the sock and pole together. Wrap and tie a few times so it is nice and secure.

3) Cut two ears out of some felt. I used some scraps of some strong hand-made felt I had – I imagined the shape of a cathedral door when I cut them out. Fold them in half and stitch onto the horse – along the heel of the sock. I stitched across the bottom of the ears, and then a little way up the sides to encourage them to stand up tall.

4) Make little bundles or tassels of yarn and stitch them between and just behind the ears to create the mane.

5) Choose some cute big round buttons for eyes and stitch them on. You could also glue one some felt circles.

6) My daughter added a bridle by wrapping yarn around the muzzle and attached a rein to hang on to for when those horses want to gallop fast.

This post was originally shared on http://www.numalakinder.wordpress.com

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Craft: Knitted T-Shirts

My children’s school, Silkwood, has a very unique uniform: a different colour for each day of the week. We love it! It helps the little ones move through their week, marking the days by the colour shirts they are wearing. It helps them mark their activities too – different things happen on different colour days. And it makes things colourful. A new adventure every day. Our week moves in this rhythm:

Monday – purple day

Tuesday – red day

Wednesday – yellow day

Thursday – orange day

Friday – green dayIMG_3194

Did you notice it doesn’t exactly follow the rainbow? I do admit that it bothers me too that yellow comes after red, but there is a deeper meaning behind the colours and the days, and they don’t stop at Friday. The weekend days have their colours too. The colours are related to the energies of the planets, and each day is in tune with the energy of a particular planet. This is ancient philosophy, and the colours were chosen for our school uniform years ago when Silkwood identified with steiner education. I am very glad that the colours have remained to brighten our school environment, to keep things interesting, beauty-full and rhythmic. Here are the planetary connections and (my interpretation of) their energies:

Monday – Moon – Purple – reflection/rhythms

Tuesday – Mars – Red – decisive action

Wednesday – Mercury – Yellow – communication/thinking

Thursday – Jupiter – Orange – judgement/wisdom

Friday – Venus – Green – feeling/emotional balance

Saturday – Saturn – Blue – wisdom/lessons of the past

Sunday – Sun – White – balance / wholeness

In any case, this is a post about craft … so back to the shirts. What do you do with all these shirts when they are too grotty to pass on to someone else? My sons shirts were quite revolting at the end of last year. They were hand-me downs to begin with, and then he wore them for another three years. The yellow shirt, in particular, becomes very grimy and grey. I love yellow day at the beginning of the year, everyone is sparkling in their brand new yellow t-shirts, but at the end of the year Wednesdays start looking a little dull!

I had enough rags at home, and I didn’t want to throw them away … so I knitted them. I cut his t-shirts into long strips and knitted them on chunky size 10 needles. 40 stitches across the needle in garter stitch. I had to knot the strips together where I cut over the seams, but I like the look of the knots in the knitting, it adds interest.IMG_3172

They made a beautiful mat, soft to stand on, and so pretty. Even the yukky yellow turned up looking colourful again when it was knitted in with the other colours. I added a few more colours from my husband’s old shirts (yes, I did ask first!) and I had a whole rainbow. What I love most is that inside this mat are knitted some wonderful memories: my son’s first day of school, the friends who gave us the shirts in the first place, special new friends made, and wonderful memories of the time I taught at Silkwood too. There in my mat. I couldn’t throw those memories away.

It was so quick, easy and satisfying to knit that I have no almost no t-shirts left in my drawer as I’ve started cutting them up for more mats ….

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